“The Scream”is one of the art world’s most iconic compositions. Known around the world for the captivating image of what appears to be a tortured individual set against a background of blues and oranges, the work has been called the “Mona Lisa” of Modern Art and was created by famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
Want to learn more about one of Norway’s most famous pieces of art? Read on to learn four facts about the artwork that might surprise you.
It shouldn’t be called “The Scream”
Munch titled his work “Skrik,” which is actually Norwegian for “shriek.” Its original German title was “Der Schrei der Natur,” which translates to “The Scream of Nature.” The composition has also been called “The Cry.” It might also surprise you that “The Scream”isn’t actually a single painting; in reality it’s the name given to a series of four works. According to the Munch Museum, the four versions of “The Scream” are part of Munch’s “Frieze of Life” series, which examine various themes of life including angst, love and death. All four versions were created between 1893 and 1910.
It has been stolen – twice
Being an iconic piece of art has made “The Scream”a target for art thieves. It was first taken in 1994, the same day as the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The painting was returned three months later thanks to a sting operation organized by Norwegian and British police along with the Getty Museum.
Thieves took another version of the artwork just ten years later. Although suspects were quickly apprehended, the Munch Museum’s version of “The Scream”and another Munch painting remained missing. Despite fears that the thieves had burned the artworks, both were recovered in 2006 in a classified police operation. After two years of conservation, both paintings were returned to their displays in 2008.
A record breaking auction
One of the four versions of “The Scream”went to auction in 2012. The version, lauded by the London auction house as the most colorful in the series, was sold for $119,992,500 after just 12 minutes at auction. American Leon Black then put the work on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
A pop culture Inspiration
“The Scream” has been an inspiration to artists for more than a century now, with everyone from Warhol to the Simpsons being drawn to Munch’s work. Here are two examples that you might not have known: Macaulay Culkin’s scream in 1990s “Home Alone”was inspired by the famous painting. The U.S. Department of Energy even uses a simplified version of the painting in its signs warning future civilizations of the presence of radioactive waste.
Want to learn more about Edvard Munch the painter? Sons of Norway members can check out Celebrating a Master from the August 2013 Viking, or learn more about Munch’s other work in our July 2017 article Edvard Munch’s Olso.
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